The Big Day Has ComeOn August, 27 a friend of mine during a trip in California brought for me a wonderful Mac Book Pro Unibody 13.3" 2.53GHz, 4GB Ram, 250GB HD.
I've never used a Mac before so I was very curious to see if a Mac and his operating system could do the job for me.
Bringing the Mac on the road
The first thing I've done was switching for only 8€ to Snow Leopard (which came out on the 28th so my Mac came with Leopard on it) and obviously before buying it I knew it could be used to develop in java (which is my main activity); Snow Leopard comes with the jdk 1.6.x. 64 bit on it, you don't need to download or configure anything.
I've paid only 8€ because I brought the Mac just before Snow Leopard came out. You could buy your upgrade directly on apple's site just inserting the serial of the Mac and the place where you brought it. The DVD arrived via Mail just a week after even if I made my order on the 28th of August and there was a note that due to a lot of orders there might be a slight delay. Microsoft has done the same thing with Windows 7 saying that the upgrade came free but all of my friend who brought a PC with the "free" Windows 7 upgrade option included had to pay an extra 25-30€ to receive the upgrade. at home.
That doesn't sound a lot free to me. So Apple wins for me on this side.
Using a Mac is absolutely fantastic! The backlight keyboard is truly amazing and when you open an application it pops up really fast... much faster than Windows and Linux too.
The Unibody enclosure is a piece of art but the glass on the display it's a bit too glossy. For fairness I have to say that the one on the 13.3" HP DV 3650 in my office it's even worse.
My wife has a truly amazing Sony Vaio VGN-Z650N/B and the display of the Vaio if a lot better than the one on the Mac.
You can view images or pdf using Preview. With Preview even a complex pdf can be open in just second, you don't need adobe reader 9 like on Windows.
Mail and Contacts even if really simple applications are perfectly synchronized with my iPhone and finding. I didn't configure anything and when you use Mail and see all of your contacts the same way you see them on your iPhone you have the feeling that that's the way it should be done.
The overall feeling of the system is really polished and spotlight is always there to find out whatever you need (in just a second).
OSX seems really focused on your documents and your work not in managing your PC because you are stupid and you could damage it.
I think Microsoft did a really good job with Windows 7; when you use it you immediately have the feeling that is much faster then Vista and much clean and organized than XP but it remains slower then OSX and the search options (even if improved) it's far behind spotlight.
The only thing I was a bit perplexed is that OSX doesn't have the "cut" option in finder (which is the OSX explorer for the file system).
Maybe Steve Jobs doesn't like the "cut" function but to me it's absence sounds really stupid. CUT is useful!
After all finder is a really good file browser but using Linux Ubuntu for work I have to say that Nautilus beats them all! Nautilus lets you browse you file system, sftp, samba, nfs connected file systems using tabs inside the same Nautilus window and in my opinion this is the same revolution you had when switching from Internet Explorer 6 to Firefox!
I am not used to buy applications. I usually search (and find) an application that fits my needs in the open source and freeware market.
This on Windows and obviously Linux. I don't need a lot of applications but some of them are a bit tricky.
On mac I failed to find all of this application. Obviously I installed mac ports to get DIA and easytag but when it came to add subtitles to a TV series in a format usable on my PS3 I had to use aviaddsubx via wine because the only application I found on mac that did the same thing wasn't free.
So I had on Mac the same problems I have on Linux.
In terms of availability of software Windows beats them all. This is a very important point. If you absolutely need and application that is not available on Mac think of it.
Obviously you can use Windows in a virtual machine (virtual box is free and it is a good product even if not as fast as Parallels or Fusion) but if you find yourself using the virtual machine 8 hours a day maybe OSX isn't just right for you.. and don't forget that you need an extra Windows license too!
Last thing I wan't to say as a software engineer is that Mac has a BSD kernel which means a truly UNIX system under the hood and when you open the terminal you have a lot of power under your finger not like the dumb MS-DOS windows. This Is a thing you don't get on Windows but not all of you maybe interessed.
This is a tricky point. As I sad applications on Mac open really fast, but speaking of java development I've done the build of a big application I work on on a Mac (not mine) and on Windows Vista (with no antivirus) and Linux Ubuntu (on the same PC). The build process creates, compiles an moves a lot of files ( 5K to 10K i think) and it took 138 seconds on Windows 40 on the Mac and only 20 on Linux!
Ok: Mac behaves 3 times better than Windows but Linux does 7 times better!
Perhaps on 3D tests Windows is the winner as the graphic drivers are really optimized on Windows, maybe on Mac on just a little on Linux - sometimes it's a good result just if they don't crash ;) -.
Maybe in a future post I'll report this experience.
And The Winner Is...
That's all for now (it's late and I'm getting tired). After all of this months the question is: has Mac and OSX been a good choice for me or I should have stayed with Windows (Linux in my case)?
I think that the overall result is YES!
The system works perfectly out of the box, it's very stable and fast. A responsive system it's very important to me and a the fact that doesn't get slower after using it like windows and it's registry hell it's a plus.
The superb integration of all the applications preinstalled (Mail, Preview, iTunes, iPhoto etc..) can manage all of your documents in a wonderful way.
The integration with my iPhone is a plus.
If you wan't a fast system that works out of the box, you don't play games and you are not afraid to learn something new you should evaluate a Mac carefully.
Mac cost's more than PC but with the PC you'll need an antivirus which will slow down your PC for all of it's life, at some point you probably want to format everything because the system it is getting to slow or because a virus damaged it. In short words your PC has a greater chance to need some extra maintenance and will always result slower.
If you use a lot your computer all of this means time and stress.. this for me means valuable money.
The only thing I have to repeat is: carefully evaluate the software available on mac, what you really need what you will get and what you can afford (if you wan't to buy some software).
The third choice is Linux but in this case you should carefully choose your system hardware and probably you'll need to have the patience to configure something and look on the internet for some help to make it work properly.
I don't think that this post is the right place to discuss this kind of issues as the majority of the users aren't able to do this.